An investigation from the Office of Police Conduct Review revealed Minneapolis police officers requesting Hennepin County medical responders to use the date rape drug ketamine on suspects of crimes
The report showed between 2012 and 2017 officers requested ketamine be administered to at least 62 suspects
Multiple suspects had already been restrained when officers requested the use of ketamine
One man already strapped to a stretcher was given three shots and stopped breathing in the ambulance
Former US Attorney General Sally Yates will be conducting an investigation into the incidents
A statement from Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said no officers have been disciplined since the information is not complete
In Minneapolis, an investigation from the Office of Police Conduct Review—a division of the city’s Department of Civil Rights—shows police officers have been urging Hennepin County medical responders to sedate people with the powerful date-rape drug ketamine since 2012.
The Star Tribune received a copy of the report and released excerpts last week. Under orders from officers, Hennepin Healthcare EMS injected multiple suspects of crimes with the drug. Some suspects were already restrained when the drug was administered. Multiple suspects that were given ketamine against their will experienced heart and breathing failure, requiring them to be medically revived.
Between 2012 and last year, the Minneapolis police requested ketamine at least 62 times. The report was finished in May and was followed by a statement from Minneapolis police Commander Todd Sauvageau. In the statement, Sauvageau stated the officers “shall never suggest or demand EMS Personnel ‘sedated’ a subject. This is a decision that needs to be clearly made by EMS Personnel, not MPD Officers.”
MPD lists ketamine as a date-rape drug due to the drug’s ability to heavily sedate and erase or alter memories. However, there is no policy against officers requesting the drug be used on suspects.
Ketamine was first discovered in 1962. It was tested on humans in 1964 then approved for use in the United States in 1970. After obtaining approval, Ketamine was extensively used in the Vietnam War as a surgical anesthesia.
Ketamine is sold under the brand name Ketalar and mainly used for initiating and maintaining anesthesia. The drug places people in a trance-like state as it provides pain relief, sedation, and memory loss. Some of the common side effects include agitation, confusion, hallucinations, elevated blood pressure, muscle tremors, lowered blood pressure and a decrease in breathing. on the streets, ketamine is known as Special K and can be used for quite nefarious purposes.
According to Hennepin Healthcare’s policy, ketamine is authorized for use if a patient is “profoundly agitated,” unable to be restrained and pose a danger a to themselves or others. The report found multiple examples where the suspect did not meet the above requirements.
In many cases, the individual being detained or arrested was not only handcuffed, but strapped down on a stretcher in an ambulance before receiving ketamine.
Hennepin EMS Medical Director Jeffrey Ho and Minnesota Poison Control System Medical Director Jon Cole opposed the findings of the report. In a statement they claimed the results to be a “reckless use of anecdotes and partial snapshots of interactions with police, and incomplete information and statistics to draw uninformed and incorrect conclusions.”
For the report, the Office of Police Conduct Review investigators looked for mentions of the word ketamine in police reports. Once the word was found, investigators then reviewed body cam footage of those incidents.
Multiple videos showed individuals requiring intubation after being injected with ketamine, and [police] reports indicate that numerous individuals stopped breathing and/or their hearts stopped beating after being injected with ketamine.
The report showed that MPD officers requested ketamine in a variety of cases including jaywalking. At least one man already strapped to a stretcher and wearing a spit hood was given the drug.
Between 2016 and 2017, MPD officers explicitly asked EMS to provide ketamine—either when calling for EMS services or upon arrival of the ambulance—eight times. Also, MPD officers assisted EMTs while they injected individuals with ketamine by holding them down.
The report notes one incident where four MPD officers and two EMS officers responded to a call about a man in the middle of a mental health crisis. Once the man saw the needle, he pleaded with responders to not drug him. In the body cam footage, the report claims the man is heard saying, “Whoa, whoa that’s not cool! I don’t need that!”
Despite his opposition, the man was given the drug two times then strapped to a chair. After the man was under the influence of the drug and unable to communicate, an officer said, “He just hit the K-hole,” referring to the drugs powerful effects.
When the man began regaining consciousness, the officer asked if the EMS worker had any more ketamine with him. The EMS staff responded, “I can draw more.” Another officer replied, “You’re my favorite.”
They then gave the man another shot of ketamine and the officer is heard saying, “We’ll have to end up putting a [breathing] tube in.” While on the way to the hospital the man lost consciousness and quit breathing. The man regained his pulse and began breathing again while at the hospital.
Following the report, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo unveiled a proposal to launch an immediate search for an independent investigator to review cases involving ketamine between 2015 and 2017.
Frey made the announcement hours after a City Council committee meeting. Council Member Phillipe Cunningham demanded an investigation be finished by July, and for an independent investigator to be lead the investigation. Cunningham believes the independent investigation will add another layer of transparency to the situation.
Cases from the report included both Hennepin Healthcare and North Memorial Medical Center. In a news conference, Hennepin Healthcare claimed the cases to be medically justifiable but would ask for an independent review to be conducted.
North Memorial released a statement saying their staff “have the training and discretion to make medical decisions when responding to incidents.”
Deputy Police Chief Henry Halvorson read a statement from Arradondo to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee Thursday informing them no officers have been disciplined for any of the incidents involving ketamine since the information is incomplete. Halverson was not clear on what, if any, disciplinary measures would be taken following the conclusion of the investigation.
When the report is final and the independent review has been completed, I am committed to acting on the independent examiner’s findings and any best practices set forth.
It was announced that Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates will be conducting the independent investigation. Frey announced the decision on Friday. “The people of Minneapolis have spoken and we’ve listened,” Frey said.
The people of Minneapolis have spoken and we’ve heard their message loud and clear, which is, we need to get to the bottom of what happened and we need to do it in a transparent and accountable way completely free from any interference from officials in the city,
Yates was the Justice Department’s second-in-command under the Obama administration. She went on to become the acting attorney general for President Donald Trump. Trump fired Yates in late January 2017 after she refused to defend his travel ban.